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I think 8th grade was a great year for Buttercup.
Then came 9th... And oh boy did it hit HARD!!
Buttercup has the desire to be good, to make the right choices and to hang out with people that can build her up and help her stay on the "straight and narrow." She found out during this school year that one of the girls in her "group" wasn't the kind of person she should be hanging out with. The girl uses terrible language, disrespects people behind their backs and had broken the law -- she committed a felony by stealing $10,000 cash out of a bureau drawer -- but the victims didn't press charges so she got off with a 'slap on the wrist'. Buttercup and I talked about this. I didn't forbid her to hang out with her, but we talked about influence and how easily people take you down to their level. We talked about "guilt by association." Buttercup had a difficult decision to make.
Towards the end of the year, she knew what she should do.
She decided that she needed to break off the friendship with this girl. Unfortunately, the girl didn't take it well. Buttercup became her new target and she did everything she could to make her life miserable and she pulled lots of people along with her. Buttercup's social circle became divided, mostly in the bully's favor.We taught a lot of lessons about "turning the other cheek" during this time. We felt that if Buttercup ignored the verbal jabs and the dirty looks, the bully would get tired and leave her alone. We were wrong.
During this year, Buttercup's grades started suffering again. We offered, as incentive, a cell phone if she would keep her GPA to a pre-determined level. The first grading period after the "bribe" ended, she was .03 points away from what our agreement was. THAT WAS SO HARD!!! Max, held firm though, and didn't give in. Buttercup didn't get her phone. For the record, I'm a softie and I was on my way to the phone store when he said no. But Max is much wiser than I am. That was the last time her GPA was below the mark. From then, and until today, she has kept it .2 and even .5 points higher than our requirement! It has required a LOT of effort, a LOT of staying after school and talking to teachers, a LOT of extra credit work...
NLD has made things hard -- sometimes they seem impossible-- but Buttercup has proven that with elbow grease and perseverance and a firm determination that it won't derail her life. On particularly bad days, she sometimes cries and says, "Why me? Why can't I learn like everyone else? Why does everything have to be so hard?" And I just have to cry with her. I don't know why she has this trial, but I know that she can face just about anything that is thrown at her because of it! And she is learning this too. One of her gifts in life is the ability to look at fear straight in the face and conquer it.
9th grade ended and moved into 10th. As much as we wanted and hoped the bullying would end, it didn't. She suffered many quiet attacks: garbage stuffed into her locker; the lock on her locker turned around so the dial faced inward making it extremely difficult to undo; her friends had the locks stolen off their lockers and were told they could only have them back if they'd stop being friends with Buttercup; mean texts sent from friend's stolen phones saying they hated her and that she was ugly; on and on. Her best friend, the pea-in-the-pod friend, went to the other side. Thank heaven's Buttercup was on the school dance team so she had a large group of friends who were on her side!!
I was a bad mom. I kept hoping that bully (she doesn't deserve a capital "B") would get tired of harassing my daughter. I kept hoping that Pea-in-the-pod friend would wake up and see what they were doing to Buttercup. It didn't stop. It lasted all of 10th grade and into 11th.
I was a bad mom. I didn't stop it. :'(
Finally, on a particularly bad day in 11th grade, Buttercup was storming around the house. (Of course she was.) I was at my wits ends as well, so I said, "WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO!?!?" She broke down and sobbed and said, "I just want the bullying to end." That was a slap to my face. Why hadn't I taken care of it sooner?!?!?
I immediately went to the phone and placed a call to the school. I explained what was happening and without question, without any doubts, and with total understanding they promised that it would end immediately. The next day, bright and early in the morning, bully and her boyfriend were called to the office. They were told, in no uncertain terms, that if they even looked at Buttercup with a cross look they would be expelled.
It was that quick. It was that easy. Why didn't I do it sooner? That will haunt me for the rest of forever.
Things have been better. Pea-in-the-pod eventually realized exactly how evil and vile bully is (I am struggling with forgiveness on this one!) and apologized to Buttercup. Until a couple weeks ago they have been the best of friends again. (I think Pea Pod is dealing with some very personal issues that have made her pull away.)
Buttercup is happier than I've seen her in the last 3 years. She admits that she's happy. She's so much fun to have in the home. I've watched her bloom into a wonderful young woman. I've watched her gain a delightful sense of humor (people with NLD take things very literally, so understanding jokes is hard). She is extremely loving and nurturing toward Inigo. SHE IS MY FRIEND!!!
Last weekend, we sang in our final vocal recital. We always sing a fun duet (Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better and Step Sister's Lament from Cinderella) but this year we decided we'd sing a song that means something to us. We chose For Good from Wicked. It was such an honor singing that song with her.
"I've heard it said, that people come into our lives for a reason,
Bringing something we must learn....
I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you....
I have been changed for good."
Those are just a couple lines from the song. Needless to say, we didn't make it through it without crying.
I am proud to Call Buttercup my daughter. I am proud to call her my friend. I am proud of the person she is and the wonderful woman she is becoming.
I look forward to the new phase of her life that is coming her way. She is enrolled in cosmetology school in the fall. It's a local school and -- even with all the weeping and wailing I'm doing -- she'll still be living at home for the next year. But after that it's off to points unknown... college somewhere and beginning a life on her own.
And Buttercup, (I know you're reading this) if you can't tell by now:
I LOVE YOU!!!
(These are the two announcements we made. We did the black one first and had them all printed and in envelopes in the mailbox waiting to be taken away. But I was unhappy with them. So I made up the lighter, wheatfield one. We liked it so much better that I yelled at Buttercup, "GO GET THOSE ENVELOPES OUT OF THE MAILBOX!!" We carefully slit them open and put the new ones in.)